Tag Archives: gender

Don’t Call Women “Girls”

At my job before this one, one of the millennial guys said, “Oh this vendor is going to have their girls look over this.” And one of the woman VPs said, “Really? They have little girls doing this for us? That’s amazing.” It was a good way to call it out with gentle ribbing and a reminder that language matters.

From MeFi:

I work with plenty of men who refer to their professional female colleagues as ‘girls’. It’s especially bad when it’s referring to an all-female team, like ‘the HR girls’.

They don’t call their male colleagues boys. Children generally have lower social status than adults. Women generally have lower social status than men. Calling women ‘girls’ in a professional contexts suggests you view them as extremely low on the social ladder. It’s demeaning and belittling, and implies that they’re more naive and less competent than their male equivalents.

Some women get socialised to go along with this and only ever be nice and unthreatening in the workplace, even if it costs them personally and professionally, because shit like calling women girls pigeonholes grown women as all of the negative things society implies about very young women 24/7 – annoying, irrational, flighty, overly emotional.

Reducing some women’s status in this way can be harmful to all women – I’ve learned to be firm and icy enough at work that I don’t think anyone does this to me, but doing it to my peers devalues the status of a group that also contains me. It makes us all a bit more dismissable and disposable as a demographic.

I call my male colleagues out on this all the time and it feels like a sacred duty.

Discussion in context.

How Girls Learn Emotional Reciprocity (and Why Boys Don’t)

From that same Metafilter discussion:

“Adolescent female friendships are LEGENDARILY difficult and drama-prone. And they are! Being an adolescent girl and navigating the emotional landscape of female friendship is hella hard! It’s not just media hype to sell Mean Girls narratives! But I think the narrative the media wants to attach to it is “girls are so over-emotional and mean to each other” when actually I think the deeper narrative here is, “Girls make intense emotional demands on their friendships in ways that boys don’t, and girls have hyperdramatic adolescent friendship landscapes because they are learning to engage in reciprocal emotional relationships without an adult to mediate them. Adolescent girl friend drama is children learning to manage reciprocal emotional relationships like adults. Boys friendships are not, culturally, allowed to be so intense, dramatic, or emotionally-involving, so I think boys do not get the opportunity to learn and practice adult interpersonal relationships in the same way, and boys friendships simply do not place the same emotional demands on them. Girls MUST learn to function with emotional reciprocity in their friendships or get shut out of them; emotionality is so proscribed in male friendships that they simply never face that demand.

“So you have a lot of girls arriving in their late teens and early 20s with a decade of watching adult women manage other people’s emotions and considering it a skill to emulate, and then a decade of struggling through the whirlpools of adolescent female friendships and learning to do the work themselves. They’ve served their apprenticeships. They face demands of reciprocity from other women they’re friends with, and they’re accustomed to the idea that relationships involve giving as well as taking.

“Some boys, however, arrive in their late teens and early 20s without having ever had a peer make emotional demands on them, and without having ever had to function in a peer relationship where they have to both give and take. Their closest emotional relationships are with parents, and parent-to-child is give-give-give so the child is take-take-take. I think a lot of these young men, it has literally never occurred to them that someone they are emotionally close to would make any emotional demands on them, because that has literally never happened, because their early childhood years were full of nothing but women, and their adolescent years featured culturally-limited friendships that were emotionally superficial. So some of these guys? Yeah, they finish college and start dating seriously and they’re perfectly nice guys who have literally no idea how to function as emotional adults because they’re only just now starting to practice. They have the emotional literacy of 11-year-old girls. And, yeah, basically someone’s going to end up having to raise them from 11-year-old-ness in interpersonal relationships to adulthood, because it’s not really a task you can accomplish in the absence of other people with whom to be interpersonally related. …

“And Because Patriarchy we’re going to act like that’s just how 23-year-old men act and all roll our eyes instead of recognizing that, no, they’re actually behaving like 11-year-old girls, but it’s pretty embarrassing for them because it’s one thing when you’re 11 but when you’re 23 you really ought to know better. And at 11 you’re just making everyone around you miserable but at 23 you have the full power to ruin lives with your bullshit.

Full discussion in context.

Dating an Emotional Charlatan

From a Metafilter discussion about modern dating and emotional labor:

“A few years ago, one of my friends began dating an accomplished lawyer who made good money. He was charming and generous. He 100% seemed like he had his shit together and could keep up with her. He cooked for her occasionally and his home was clean and comfortable.

“When they moved in together, his mother emailed her a list of links to Brooks Brothers and his measurements. He had never bought work clothes for himself. During the year they lived together, she had to put him on an allowance because he ran out of money most months. He wanted takeout every night and would pout if she offered to cook instead. His idea of helping out around the house was to unload the dishwasher once a week and demand enthusiastic praise for it. At the end of that year he put extreme pressure on her to re-sign their lease. She ended up paying hundreds of dollars to break the lease two months later, when she broke up with him “out of nowhere.”

“I assure you, the men who are good at fooling women into believing they are competent adults and quality partners are good at fooling you into believing the same. This kind of emotional charlatan isn’t someone a few unlucky women meet in their 20s–these men are everywhere, across professions and classes. I’m definitely skeptical of your confidence in determining which men are good partners from the outside. If women–who have a much larger stake in not dating man-size toddlers–are so often wrong, how do you know that your assessments of other men are correct?”

Full discussion.

On Slave Leia

From a Metafilter discussion about Disney retiring Slave Leia collectibles:

“Yes. I was a kid when I first saw it, and it wasn’t the sexy that bothered me, it was seeing my Lone Representative of My Gender, who also happened to have proven herself a badass, (a rare thing!) get degraded for yuks.

“You may not know this, but until very recently, if you were a girl who admired a girl character in a media property, you also repeatedly experienced the sinking, shaming sensation of seeing your hero turned into a tits n’ ass parade at some point, or otherwise having her female status used to make her Less Heroic than male characters.

“Has Captain America yet had his turn onscreen in nothing but a chainmail banana-hammock and fetters, being slobbered over by a repugnant slavemaster who appears to want to rape him, until a fully-clothed group of female heroes rescues him? No. And outside of fanfic, he won’t, because it’s upsetting for men to see their heroes treated that way.

“It’s not about prudery.”

Full discussion http://www.metafilter.com/154467/Disney-To-Retire-All-Slave-Leia-Merch#6274851

Movie still from Return of the Jedi.

Diane Freeleng, Feminist Horror Movie Icon

My sister and I are HUGE HUGE HUGE fans of Poltergeist. It was one of the movies that played 24/7 the summer that we had cable as kids. Schlock Corridor makes the case for a feminist reading of Poltergeist (1982) – focusing on JoBeth Williams’s portrayal of Diane Freeleng as the take charge one:

“While Steven has a mock gun battle with his neighbor, Diane is giving Carol Anne her first understanding of mortality, creating an almost Egyptian-level sarcophagus for the corpse of Tweety.

“This is the first time the film presents us with one of its themes: only women can get things done. Throughout the movie it’s female characters who are forced to actually effect change, and it all begins with Diane’s tender ceremony for Tweety. Later Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Strait) is the glue that holds the parapsychology team together, then Tangina is the key to the final rescue of Carol Anne – which Diane must do herself while Steven can’t even hold the rope correctly.

She’s a cool mom who seems to understand where Dana is coming from as she goes through her adolescent angst – possibly because she was around Dana’s age when she got knocked up. She’s also a stay at home mom. In 2012 this character probably couldn’t exist – she would have to be a writer or a painter or sell crafts on Etsy because the modern movie world doesn’t truly respect stay at home moms. But for all of her fond remembrances of ‘the old days,’ Diane doesn’t seem unhappy to be at home with the kids. Steven’s adulthood has turned him into a person he doesn’t truly recognize – it’s turning him into James Karen, in fact – but adulthood has been better to Diane.

I like to think that it was Carol Anne’s birth that started it all, though. It certainly fits thematically with what comes later – her closet turns into a huge vagina, and she is returned from the Other Side in an ectoplasmic birth caul. The rescue of Carol Anne is a rebirth, almost quite literally when she and Diane aren’t breathing in the tub. It also helps explain why The Beast is interested in the girl. It seems unlikely that the Freeling’s pool is the first serious digging in Cuesta Verde, but it is plausible that Carol Anne was the first baby born on the development. That makes Carol Anne’s rebirth a cleansing new start, a reclamation of the birth process.

“Carol Anne as the focus also feeds into the film’s essential feminism. The Beast wants to use Carol Anne as a beacon to attract the souls trapped between this side and the other; it’s her life force – something that comes from the feminine – that attracts them. The Beast is specifically said to be male – a male entity that is abusing the warmth of femininity to devour innocent souls.

The diminutive psychic is the final element of the film’s feminist trilogy – the cool mom, smart doctor and tough as nails medium seem to make up the life cycle of childhood.”

Here’s the trailer for the new remake (with a male psychic – boo!!!):

Bjork on Women, Music, Auteurs, and Authorship

Bjork talks to Pitchfork about her new album (coming after the collapse of her marriage) and about the unique challenges of women in the music industry:

“I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself.”

On the music press’s refusal to see her collaborators as contributors without removing her as the auteur voice:

“I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I’m not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I’m saying to you now helps women, I’m up for saying it.”

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos’] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don’t even listen to him. It really is strange.”

Full interview http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9582-the-invisible-woman-a-conversation-with-bjork/

Ignoring The Shy Nerdy Girls

From Male Nerds Think They’re Victims Because They Have No Clue What Female Nerds Go Through:

“Science is a way that shy, nerdy men pull themselves out of the horror of their teenage years. That is true. That is so. But shy, nerdy women have to try to pull themselves out of that same horror into a world that hates, fears and resents them because they are women, and to a certain otherwise very intelligent sub-set of nerdy men, the category “woman” is defined primarily as “person who might or might not deny me sex, love and affection.”

“(And you ask me, where were those girls when you were growing up? And I answer: we were terrified, just like you, and ashamed, just like you, and waiting for someone to take pity on our lonely abject pubescence, hungry to be touched. But you did not see us there. We were told repeatedly, we ugly, shy nerdy girls, that we were not even worthy of the category “woman.” It wasn’t just that we were too shy to approach anyone, although we were; it was that we knew if we did we’d be called crazy. And if we actually got the sex we craved? (because some boys who were too proud to be seen with us in public were happy to fuck us in private and brag about it later) … then we would be sluts, even more pitiable and abject. Aaronson was taught to fear being a creep and an objectifier if he asked; I was taught to fear being a whore or a loser if I answered, never mind asked myself. Sex isn’t an achievement for a young girl. It’s something we’re supposed to embody so other people can consume us, and if we fail at that, what are we even for?)

Full article http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120653/nerd-entitlement-lets-men-ignore-racism-and-sexism

Quote referenced here.